It’s curtains for … never mind …

Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 9:18 pm in Eleanor, Finished Projects, Sewing | 5 Comments

The baby’s room is almost done now – just a couple more details to add, and that room will be the cutest thing I’ve ever been a part of. I don’t normally go in for cute, and this is not disgustingly so, but it’s definitely cute. As Jeff says, “When you’re in this room you can definitely tell we’re happy about the baby coming.” I will endeavor to take decent photographs of the whole thing once all the pieces are in place. Meanwhile, this is the window in the baby’s room. I show you this window because it is now happily festooned with gingham curtain panels I finished last Thursday.


You haven’t seen the rest of the room yet, but suffice it to say brown gingham was highly appropriate. Also, there is the fact that I have a thing for gingham. Gingham is definitely not something that appears often in my choices for decor and clothing. Usually if you’re an adult and still doing the gingham thing, it means you’re into a VERY different style than I’m into – shabby chic or countryish or something far away from my modern minimalism. But when I was little, I LOVED gingham. My room and clothing often featured red or blue gingham, and I loved each piece of it. Even my very favorite security blanket was red gingham.

tab top

These panels feature a lightweight 1/4″ brown gingham. I didn’t want to make them blackout curtains – the room faces a building, and doesn’t get a lot of light, so I didn’t want to darken things any more. Each curtain panel measures a ridiculous 63″ x 63″ – we have some very wide windows! It’s one reason I made curtains instead of buying them, because I needed them shorter and wider than purchased panels would be, and I didn’t want them to be lined. I constructed them so I have a choice of either using the hidden tabs or a curtain rod pocket. I’m using the hidden tabs now because I like the way the panels fall.

The curtains took me about five hours to finish, working at my pregnant-lady snail’s pace. I will tell you though, that they are extremely precisely measured. After all, the gingham pattern gives a clear 1/4″ measurement to follow! They’re also very thoroughly sewn. I tried to make them as nice as possible.


Aside from curtains, I’ve been busily working on a couple of other final room projects. You can see some of them in the picture above. After the curtains were done I had gingham fabric left over and after some consideration, I’ve decided to make a couple of pillow cases. The baby room was once a guest room, and contains a green daybed you can sleep on. I figure I’ll be napping there myself quite a few times as I get into to this motherhood thing, so I’m providing myself with pillows and a blanket. The pillowcases will have some sort of decoration on them – what, I don’t know – a crochet trim?

Also in the picture is some fleece for a blanket – I tried to sew a blanket binding on it last weekend, but the tension on my machine is really not behaving. I swore a bunch and got very cranky about it, which didn’t change the obvious fact that I’m going to have to come up with some other edging solution. Some of the orange fabric you see is the backing for a decorative scrap pillow.


In both pictures you can see evidence I’m working on the baby bibs, which are slowly getting Velcro sewn on them. My MIL sent me a snap tool to try, but the terry cloth is just too thick for snaps. Ah, well. There are also a couple of other projects shown that I have gotten myself into. It seems I cannot stop finding new things upon which I might possibly spend my time. If you’re keeping track, the pictures show:

  • baby bibs getting velcro
  • baby fleece coat and flannel pants pattern
  • the baby scrapbook I’m customizing
  • fleece blanket that needs edging
  • decorative zippered scrap pillow
  • gingham pillow cases

That’s beside the crocheted blanket I’m finishing, and I guess I shouldn’t mention there are an additional three projects in my sewing closet? … It’s an illness, I tell you. Crafting is an illness.

Potholders and Bacon Fabric and more

Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 11:58 pm in Finished Projects, Modern Domesticity | 5 Comments

FIRST, a shout out to one of my best friends who got married today. Congratulations Paula!

I have FINISHED finished my whole kitchen project. Everything I was going to do is done, and then some. I planned to make 2 curtains, 4 cushions and a potholder, and I made three curtains, six cushions, three potholders and a mixer cover. I just could not seem to quit. But finally, I’m putting this project to bed (until I decide to make coordinating placemats and napkins or something) (because you know I will). Without further ado, voila valance over the kitchen sink:


That window, if you can believe it, is 55″ wide. I love having a big window over my kitchen sink. I have a collection of little things on the sill. Next up, above and below, is the quilted cover I made for my mixer. It is made of linen with a pieced decorative element and bias edging. It took a long time to make because I did all the quilting as well as the piecing myself. It’s pretty heavy duty. I drafted the simple pattern – it’s constructed with one long piece and two side pieces.

Mixer cover

Under that mixer cover is a KitchenAid complete with Alton Brown-esque flame decals. I’m now saving for additional attachments and more bowls and things for it. This thing has made a lot of bread in its four months at my house.  It’s really good at kneading dough. Now it’s really good at holding up a cover.

Detail 2

I also made three potholders. They are based on the two I own and like. Potholders, I’m here to tell you, are NOT quick to throw together. There are a lot of layers of fabric, the terry cloth I used tends to get caught in my machine’s feed dogs, and between the quilting and putting it together there’s a lot of time involved in the sewing. If you can’t tell, I’m pretty thrilled to be done! I’m also pretty thrilled with the results.

no burns

The Williams-Sonoma oven mitt I based these two on has a terry cloth lining that I’m quite fond of. I chose to emulate that for all my mittens and potholders. After all, I had leftover terry cloth from my bathroom wrap project, so why not?  In addition to terry cloth there’s a layer of thick fleecy felt in between for added protection. I made the oven mitts from more coordinating fabric not used in other projects, a floral and a stripe.


And now, maybe, you see where my “bacon” reference in the post title comes in. After cutting some of the striped red/pink fabric into bias strips, I realized it looked a lot like bacon strips.  This particular fabric’s honestly a bit bacon-y and pink for me, but I think as long as I’m not seeing it in long narrow strips it’s fine. I like it with the floral, anyway.


I know people think I’m slightly nuts for making all this stuff for my kitchen, but completing huge and complicated projects like this really it helps a lot with improving my skills. I think I did a pretty good job on these things – I can tell my abilities with sewing are really getting better, which makes me happy. Craft, unlike art or knowledge, is one of those things where you aren’t good unless you practice it a whole lot. In my opinion, most good art has some type of practiced craft as its root. For example the technical craft of piano is at the root of artistic piano playing. In the same way I can express more and do more with my sewing as my sewing craft improves.

Potholder 'in action'

Now onto something completely different!  Well, not completely different. Just not anything for the kitchen.

P.S. So yesterday morning (or was that this morning?) I re-read my last post and asked Jeff if I came off as a curmudgeon. He replied, “You’re opinionated.” I said, “What does that mean?” and of course he responded, “It means you’re opinionated.” He’s right. I am. I can’t help it. Hope y’all don’t mind too much :)

Carpentry Accomplished

Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm in Finished Projects, Modern Domesticity, Sewing | 4 Comments

HA. BENCHES ARE DONE. THEY LOOK AWESOME. Cafe curtains are done too!  See? Isn’t it nice and bright and cheery?


I have a galley kitchen, and this dining room is at one end. It is compact, with a good layout and lots of sun. To the left  s a built-in corner cabinet for dishes (not visible).  I made curtains because the dining room is one of the few windows in our apartment where people might actually be able to see inside. We overlook an urban landscape – the interior courtyard of a busy city block. However, if you’ll believe it, you can see an urban chicken coop and garden out that end window (p.s. chickens make weird noises).

I put together an animated slide show of us putting the pieces so far into the space, to amuse myself.  If you’re reading this in an email you may not see it (MOM, AUNTS), in which case you have to go to my website to see it.  (I made the animation at Gickr). So who can spot Callie?


I designed these benches myself. I have the proof right here, in this Plan I drew up. There’s another page showing where I think the screws should go. And you know what? With the exception of a couple of board widths, these got built exactly like my plan shows.You must, however, excuse my inability to do perspective drawing. Also that in perspective drawing I forgot important pieces – the cross pieces that hold the whole thing together. That DID actually become a problem when I was trying to show Jeremy and Jeff how to build the thing.


After much dithering, sawing, drilling, screwing, sanding, painting and whatnot, it’s all finished. And my design? These things are rock solid! They’re held together by these 10″ bolts that normally hold together garden posts.  I did try hard not to over-engineer it, and I think I succeeded.

I realized while building this that the process of building furniture is ridiculously similar to sewing. They’re both

  • detail-intensive in the same ways (planning, measuring, measuring, measuring),
  • they require specialized knowledge (dried board sizes, width of fabric, types of screws, types of needles),
  • they require specialized tools (sewing machines, saws, levels, seam rippers, clamps, angles, scissors),
  • and they take a lot of time to get it all right.

In sewing you have to IRON and MEASURE before you do anything, in carpentry you must SAND and MEASURE first. Or twice. The part where you screw or sew stuff together is a minimal part of the activity compared to the prep and finish work. Not that it isn’t hard too, just prep works takes lots of time …

I enjoyed it this. It is rewarding to try something completely new and have it turn out so well. I’ve got my brother to thank for that, he has the specialized knowledge that I was missing, and also the brute strength when it turns out your drill is too weak to do the job. Jeff and I spent a lot of time painting amongst the many rainstorms we’ve had lately, and finally, FINALLY yesterday we could bring them in.

photo 2(2)

Next up?  Cushion covers. Not easy! That mess above is what I’m referring to. Why, people, WHY did I put a zipper end next to a fabric end next to a corner while inserting piping? Am I trying to make myself crazy? Oh well. I only had to redo … never mind. I’m not going to think about how many times the seam ripper has made an appearance until I’m done.